Posts Tagged ‘parsley’

Weeks 40-41: February 25 – March 10

March 10, 2009

Our winter CSA has continued to bring us the lushness of Florida.  And it’s the same thing week after week after week.  I hadn’t realized how much I enjoy the way foods come into season, are abundant for a while, and then go out of season again.  I really, really do.  I’m looking forward to summer.  We will not be joining this same CSA next winter.  Our goal is to buy what we need over the summer when we can get it from local producers, supplementing our summer CSA with  local farmers markets.

It was very exciting to get some bok choy for variety this week!  The green vegetable I was most interested in, though was dino kale, I think because it goes happily into foods that feel seasonal.  I just can’t eat much salad in the winter, so lettuce and grape tomatoes week after week doesn’t work for me at all.  At least tomatoes cook into lots of things.  I’ve heard of cooked lettuce but it’s not my type of adventurous eating.

roots_dishes

We did manage a pair of very local meals last week.  The first, as seen in the photo above, was rather involved.  One of the dishes was colcannon.  Instead of my typical white potatoes and purple cabbage, it used green cabbage and got a bit of color from some red-skinned potatoes as well as the caraway seeds.  (Recipe in week 13.)  The color in the meal came from carrots and parsnips in a mustard-maple syrup glaze from a Vegetarian Times recipe.  (We “fleshed” out the meal, pun intended, with vegetarian bratwurst.)  All of those vegetables could be local.  Because our winter CSA produce has gotten intermingled with our local storage vegetables, I honestly don’t know how much of it was local.  But it could have been, and next winter it will be.

The steaming water from the carrots and parsnips along with the boiling water from the potatoes and cabbage became the broth for a wintry soup.  In went dried beans, seasonings, and a lot of  root vegetables cut to bite-sized:  carrots, celeriac, and rutabaga.  The vegetables could have been local.  I think the celeriac and some of the carrots were local, and the rutabagas and other carrots were not.  Dried beans are a winter storage food, but mine came from the supermarket.  I’d like to find a local source.  On the other hand, if I had a local source then I’d feel compelled to get all of my beans that way and we go through an awful lot of beans.

We finally made applesauce from a 10-pound bag of Northern Spy apples that had been sitting around since fall.  A half dozen of them were completely rotten and had to go straight to compost.  Another half dozen had siginificant bad spots that had to be cut out.  We still ended up with a whole lot of applesauce.

Since our winter CSA seems to know no seasons, I don’t know when the photo below is from.  I found it when I downloaded the colcannon and carrots-parsnips photos.  We’ve made this sweet potato salad a few times this winter.  It’s vegan (well, it would be totally vegan if you replaced the honey in the honey-mustard dressing with some other sweetner) and the recipe is in Moosewood Cooks at Home.  To make a version this colorful, first find a kitchen with orange counters.  Then mix cooked orange sweet potatoes, raw green bell peppers and parsley, and raw red bell peppers, and toss with dressing.

sweetpotatosalad

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Weeks 36-37: January 27 – February 9

February 9, 2009

Our winter CSA shares have been more of the same:  a few root vegetables from around here, and lots of stuff from down South, which increasingly means Florida rather than North Carolina.  We’ve done a bit of noteworthy cooking, though, so I think this post will be worth it.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten apples and celeriac from Massachusetts; carrots, beets and parsnips from Quebec;  red and white potatoes from Vermont; sweet potatoes and a rutabaga from North Carolina; and lettuce, chard, parsley, bell pepper, eggplant, green beans,  and cherry tomatoes from Florida.

Some of the sweet potatoes, a pepper, and some of the parsley turned into a sweet potato salad, with a honey-mustard dressing, from Moosewood Cooks at Home.  Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty, with the bright orange sweet potato chunks accented by bright green pepper and parsley.  It’s also vegan, although I like to turn it into an entree salad by adding hard-boiled egg.  Their recipe calls for peeling the potatoes but we don’t, because it’s too much work and wastes a very nutritious part of the vegetable.  We brought it to a potluck and nobody seemed to mind at all that there were skins in it.

Some of the carrots and the rest of the parsley went into a lentil salad.  My husband cooked French green lentils until they were edibly soft but not falling apart – a delicate and important balance.  He grated carrots and chopped parsley, and mixed those in.  The salad was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, very much like tabbouleh.  I have no idea where the carrots are from that ended up in.  I suspect they’re from our summer CSA because our farmer grows three varieties, including a chunky one good for grating.  The carrots we’ve been getting from our winter CSA are very slender, a shape which would make them good for steaming and elegantly serving them whole, but which is really not at all good for grating.  The lentil salad is good to pack for lunches, although it needs some sort of starch on the side.

Luckily, my husband also baked a cornbread rich with chopped apples and grated cheddar cheese, including some with hot peppers in it.  We keep not managing to make applesauce, but we’ve been cooking more with apples.  I sliced and fried up (in butter) a half dozen apples for serving over waffles.  I have to admit that we poured maple syrup over the waffles, apples and all.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to our produce coming from very nearby.  As a result, it feels now like our CSA food is coming from so far away.  I think I was reacting to that when I talked my husband into cooking a wholly-local breakfast last weekend.  The star of the meal was homefries made from potatoes we dug ourselves in November and diced peppers that I froze in September, both from our summer CSA.  Although he used non-local spices (what locavores sometimes refer to as Marco Polo spices), he used Vermont butter rather than oil from who-knows-where.  He also fried up New Hampshire eggs.  We’re very pan-New England around here.  Meanwhile, I mashed up a previously-baked butternut squash (summer CSA again) with New York maple syrup and more Vermont butter.  To cap it off, I remembered to take a photo.

eggtatersquash

We got a giant sweet potato a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally remembering to share photos of it.  The tiny white potato is one of the ones we dug ourselves.  We were so excited to find anything left underground, after so many other people had been harvesting before us in that same field.

bigtaterlittletater

giantsweetater

Week 33: January 5 – 12

January 13, 2009

Kale used to be on the (short) list of vegetables I don’t like.  Brussels sprouts are still there.  This is not to be confused with onions, which are on the short list of vegetables that don’t like me.  We kept getting kale in our CSA, and didn’t want to always be giving it away (especially because we only had one friend who wanted it).  Plus, it’s really, really, really good for you.  So we kept trying different things, hoping to find some way that kale was palatable.

After a few tries, I came up with a kale-lentil-lemon soup seasoned with Garam Masala that I like a whole lot, and my husband likes, too. (The recipe is in week 5.)   For a couple of years, any time we got kale, I made the soup.  Sometimes we ate it fresh, sometimes it went into the freezer.  Soup takes up a lot of space in the freezer, so then I learned to blanch and freeze the kale to be made into soup later.

Then a funny thing happened.  We got used to the taste of kale, and started eating it prepared in other ways.  I learned that I like kale with Indian sorts of seasonings, like curry, turmeric, and cumin.  The spiced potatoes and kale I made in week 31 is a good example of that. We’ve reached the point that we’ll use kale in any leafy green recipe, if kale is what we happen to have. Especially if it’s winter and any leafy greens are a treat. (That’s the locavore in me talking.) Our use of kale in the Green Cafe-inspired usually-collards recipe in week 30 was a good example of that. Of course, that recipe still has strong, spicy flavors like cumin and cayenne.  So maybe it’s still all about the seasonings.

This week we got kale again.  (Notice a theme?)  I paired it with lentils and Indian seasoinings.  Some of the soup idea, some of the seasonings idea.  The lentils had to simmer for about 45 minutes before they were ready to be added to chopped kale in a skillet with oil, garlic, salt, and the whole spice rack:  a lot of curry powder and turmeric, about half as much cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and ginger, and a bit of cayenne.  The whole mess went over rice.  It was easy and tasty, so I’d definitely make it again.

Kale was just one of the things we got from our CSA this week.  Due to some sort of a distribution problem, they ran out of large shares before we got to the pick up, so they gave us two small shares instead.  That made sharing with the other couple very easy!  We got what has become a typical share: apples, carrots,  a bag of arugula, and  one onion from Massachusetts; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and the aforementioned kale from North Carolina;  and oranges and a green bell pepper from Florida.

On the night we got the share, when it was freshest, we made an arugula salad with diced apple and cheddar cheese (Cabot, of course).  The apple wasn’t as crunch as I would have liked, but it was crunch enough and the flavors complemented each other beautifully under a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Another apple or two were diced into oatmeal (cut oats, not rolled) and allowed to stew down partway to applesauce.  There was also cinnamon involved, and some cloves and ginger.  We poured maple syrup onto our bowls to sweeten it.

Two of the dozen butternut squash around our kitchen were showing signs of rot, so I figured I’d better make a meal around their salvageable parts.  Turns out it’s easy to cut out the rotten part of a squash and still have good parts that really are good.  Between the two part-rotten squashes, what I got was equivalent to a bit more than one squash.  I cubed it, boiled it until a fork went in easily, then drained the cubes and mixed in butter, lots of sage (dried, because that’s what we have), salt, and pepper.  It made enough to top one pound of penne pasta, and worked out to be four servings.

We dipped into the freezer this week, too.  One supper was a stir-fry of pan-browned tofu, Asian eggplant from the freezer, and organic soba noodles (because we’re lucky enough to have a local Asian grocer who carries such things).  I mixed a sauce from jarred ginger, minced garlic, bottled Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.  What makes this meal stand out for me was that the eggplant came out with a good texture.  I’d been very worried that blanching and freezing it would soften it too much.  Apparently I got the blanching time right, because it was still nicely chewy.

The fresh pepper and a half dozen carrots went into a tabbouleh, along with parsley frozen this summer.  The texture on the parsley isn’t very good, of course, but it’s still quite edible.  I also put chickpeas into my tabbouleh to make it a very complete meal.  The discovery that I can put any raw vegetables (finely chopped) into tabbouleh was very liberating.  There are too many other things to do with tomatoes.  My favorite tabbouleh is with cucumbers.  As long as there’s bulghur dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and spices (usually parsley, mint, and garlic), it’s tabbouleh and a good lunch.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle author Barbara Kingsolver asks “What do you eat in January?” and answers “everything!”  This week we ate fresh, stored, and frozen vegetables.  I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight because there are too many options.  All through harvest season we eat whatever will spoil soonest.  Now we don’t have anything threatenting to spoil imminently.  What a luxury!

Week 22: October 21 – 27

October 28, 2008

This was our final CSA week of the 2008 season. It was also the last week for many farmers markets. Luckily, one of the markets near us stays open until Thanksgiving, so we can wean ourselves more gradually off of fresh produce. The produce itself helps with that. Everything, it seems, is giving way to squash and root vegetables.

Our share this final week was all squashes (including pumpkins), 16 of them in total:  four pumpkins, four butternut squash, four buttercup squash, two delicata squash and two sweet dumpling squash. 

This brought our pumpkin total to 10 (or eleven, if you count the one that rotted).  I really had to start using up pumpkin, and a lot of it, so I decided to play around and make up a pumpkin custard.  I halved one of the pumpkins and baked it upside-down in about half an inch of water for at least an hour.  While the pumpkin baked, I oiled and seasoned the seeds (salt, cumin, and cayenne) and baked them, too.  The pumpkin spent the night in the refrigerator.  After baking, the flesh was soft enough that the pumpkin halves lost all structural integrity and collapsed to almost flat.  The next day, it was cool enough to hold easily while I scooped out the flesh and mashed it.  It made 3 cups.  I mixed in 3/4 cup of maple syrup, about half a cup of milk (which might have been too much liquid), 4 beaten eggs, and spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom).  The whole thing went into a 1.5 quart casserole, and in 350-degree oven for close to 2 hours.  Because the casserole was so deep, it took a long time for the middle to heat sufficiently.  It was delicious.  It would have been even better with whipped cream.  And all of the ingredients except spices (pumpkin, eggs, milk, and maple syrup) are local!

We used up the last few greens in our refrigerator creatively, in a dish of pasta with parsley pesto and spinach.  The parsley was from week 19, and had kept remarkably well.  The spinach was from the farmers market.  We chopped it, steamed it, and stirred it into the pasta-with-pesto, along with some balsamic vinegar.  Parsley doesn’t blend as easily as basil, so if I were to make the pesto again, I’d blend the parsley with the oil until it broke down, and then add in the cheese, garlic, and pine nuts.  I wouldn’t buy parsley for the purpose of making pesto, but it is a tasty way to use up a whole bunch at once. 

My husband went to the mid-week farmers market in search of greens, and came home with one bunch of napa cabbage, one bunch of collard greens, one bunch of chard, one head of lettuce, and ten Baldwin apples

Baldwin apple monument
Baldwin apple monument

We first tried Baldwin apples a few years ago, after seeing the Baldwin apple monument in Woburn, MA (less than 15 miles away).  It has become one of our favorites.  It has a relatively dense texture, typical of heirlooms.  Its flavor is strong:  tart, sweet, and very apple-y.  Most of the Baldwin trees in New Englad were killed by ice storms in the 1920s (I have no idea where I learned that, so it might not be true).  Not only are we fans of Baldwin apples, we’re also fans of West County Cider’s  hard Baldwin cider.  West County Cider is made in Colrain, MA (about 100 miles away), in the Berkshires. 

We bought fresh cider at the very last weekend farmers market.  We also bought a 10 lb bag of Northern Spy apples, another heirloom.  They’re less tart than Baldwins, so they come across as more sweet and juicy.  Like Baldwins, they’re dense.  That makes them store well.  Our plan was to store them for weeks until we were ready to make applesauce.  Then we realized that we like them for fresh eating much better than the McIntosh that are filling our refrigerator, so we’ve been eating them instead. 

The Cortland apples aren’t in the fridge, because there isn’t space for all the apples, and cooking apples don’t need to retain texture like eating apples do.  Unfortunately, a couple of them have developed rotten spots.  I cut one out and diced the rest of the apple to fill the cavities of the two delicata squash, which I then baked.  (I seasoned the seeds and baked them, too, just like pumpkins seeds.)  I should have also filled the cavities with cider or broth to moisten and soften the squash as they baked.  The apples did not break down and do that job as I’d anticipated and hoped.  The baked stuffed squash still looked lovely.  The skin of delicata squash is thin and edible, so being able to separate the flesh from the skin (which is easy when it’s soft) wasn’t such an issue.  

The second purple cabbage was still in our crisper drawer, where it had patiently waited since week 10!  At first I had no idea what to do with it.  Then in week 13 we got potatoes and I figured out that purple colcannon was a good thing. So I saved the other cabbage for potatoes that I thought were coming imminently.  We finally got them in week 21.  The outer leaves of cabbage had some mold.  I peeled them off (4 or 5 leaves total) and the cabbage underneath was still in very good shape.  So I made the colcannon again, but using the whole head of cabbage and about two pounds of potatoes.  I also used plain yogurt instead of milk.  The yogurt picked up the purple from the cabbage even more than the milk did, so instead of the mixture being purple and white, it’s pale purple and dark purple.  Hooray for natural fun colors!   Hooray, too, for another recipe that uses all local ingredients (except the spices)!

 

Week 19: September 30 – October 6

October 1, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Eat Local Challenge.  What it boils down to is that there’s barely anything I can change that I haven’t changed already.  I can give up orange juice.  I can replace sugar with maple syrup or honey.  I might be able to buy local eggs.  I’m simply not going to be able to buy enough shell beans to replace all the canned and dried beans we use.  And I’m not going to pollute extra, driving around to specialty shops for specific foods.  So I guess I’m back where I started, which is that I may as well add my name to it because it doesn’t take any extra effort.  (For snack this evening, I had bread made from Vermont-processed flour and Massachusetts-processed butter.  I thought about having herbal tea from Groton, MA with honey from Peabody, MA, but I decided it was too warm.)

I’ve been proselytizing, but the quiet way.  I brought a bunch of scallions and a small bag of dried apple rings over to the neighbor whose dehydrator we’re borrowing as a thank-you.  The only problem with the dehydrator is its capacity.  It’s only good for about two pounds of apples at a time, and we’ve been buying apples in 10-lb bags.   In contrast, my stock pot lets me turn all 10 pounds of apples into sauce at once.

Another bit of proselytizing was with relatives.  We shared a meal with family on Monday and I volunteered to cook, so that I could serve them fresh, local, nearly-organic peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in Tunisian vegetables, with whole wheat couscous that I bought in bulk in a paper bag that later got filled with vegetable trimmings and put in our composter.  To prepare a generous quantity for six people I used 8 green bell peppers (including the two heirloom St. Nick peppers we had sitting around), 4 small eggplants, and 3 tomatoes.  It’s been especially good pepper weather, but we’ve gotten good about freezing them, so I had to buy 2 more bell peppers at the weekend farmers market to have enough.  I also bought 2 sweet potatoes because we never get those from our CSA. 

This week our CSA share was one bunch of  arugula, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of carrots, one bunch of parsley, one head of cauliflower, five baby eggplants, six aneheim peppers, ten cubanelle peppers, two sugar pumpkins, twenty apples (about six pounds, unspecified variety) and one pound of green tomatoes.

Since it wasn’t October yet, I made a soup in which mizuna was the only local ingredient.  It had Japanese udon noodles, shitake mushrooms (dried), hijiki (a sea vegetable, also dried), and tofu, and was seasoned with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  We ate with chopsticks and deep Chinese soup spoons.  It was delicious. 

My husband made and froze another batch of salsa verde, about three cups this time.  It used last week’s two pints of tomatillos along with some of the cilantro from the farmers market and a few of the sixteen anaheim peppers we had accumulated between last week and this. He chopped and froze the rest of the hot peppers.  He also chopped the rest of the cilantro and froze it in an ice cube tray, with some water, so we’ll have herb cubes to use as needed.   We might do the same with the parsley

Last week, one of the anaheim peppers went into a variant of dal makhni, and Indian lentil stew.  I used red lentils, which break down completely and make a smooth, thick broth for the vegetables.  In last week’s stew I used one anaheim pepper, diced small, two green bell peppers, a couple of carrots, and all of the head of cauliflower.  We ate it over brown rice, which was a good combination.  Lentils and rice aren’t local, but at least they’re dried before they’re shipped, and they’re both things I buy in bulk in paper bags.  I have no idea where the lentils are from, but I know my rice is from California.  Just knowing counts for something, doesn’t it?

Week 16: September 8 – 14 (Part II)

September 13, 2008

Corn season is now over.  We went to the farmers market this morning.  We didn’t need anything, because we have plenty of vegetables from our CSA and plenty of apples from my husband’s mid-week farmers market trip.  We like the Saturday market, though, because it’s nearby so it’s an easy walk and we always see lots of people we know.  Today was no exception.  We spent most of our time socializing, but we also did some shopping.  We look for things that we aren’t getting from out CSA.  Today we came home with four ears of corn, four small Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes, four very small Asian eggplants, and somewhere between half a pound and a pound of black-eyed peas, still in their shells. 

The corn and tomatoes were for lunch today.  I’ve been waiting for weeks for heirloom tomatoes to come down below $3.50 per pound, and they just haven’t.  So I succumbed, and splurged on some Green Zebras, which I recall being one of my favorites.  I ate two at lunch, and was very disappointed.  The other two aren’t ripe yet, so I’m optimistic that I can catch them at just-exactly-ripe and they’ll be delicious.  We bought corn because we figured it was getting to be our last chance.  It looked good (no tip worms – how much pesticide does that mean?), and had a nice texture, but it had very little flavor.  I guess that means corn season is over. 

The eggplants were to join mizuna and tofu in a stir-fry for supper tonight.  The black-eyed peas will go with whatever greens we get next week in something southern-style, probably with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne. 

I froze a lot of food today, but didn’t do any blanching.  That’s because two of the things I froze–bell peppers and parsley–get frozen raw, and the others–applesauce and diced tomatoes–are juicy enough to stew. 

I cut this week’s four green bell peppers into bite-size pieces and froze them in a single layer in gallon bag.  They’ll probably turn into the Tunisian vegetables that I gave a recipe for in week 15

I coarsely chopped the parsley and packed it, with a bit of water, into two sandwich bags.  Each of them will go into a batch of tabbouleh

I diced all four pounds of tomatoes (minus the one that went into ratatouille) and stewed them for the usual ten minutes.  I packed them into three 2-cup glass storage bowls.  When they’re frozen, we’ll transfer all three blocks of tomatoes into one gallon bag, with squares of wax paper between them, so we can still get out just 2 cups (equivalent to one can) when we need it.  The Green Guide magazine warns that plastic containers that are safe for cold food might leach chemicals when hot, so it’s better to put the hot tomatoes into glass.  Besides, we don’t get takeout to end up with plastic 2-cup tubs.  Yield:  6 cups of cooked diced tomatoes in juice. 

I turned the 10 pound bag of Macintosh apples into applesauce.  There were a few spots that I had to cut out (bruised to the point of rotting) but mostly they were fine.  I don’t worry about a bit of bruising in my applesauce because the apples are going to get brown and mushy anyway as they cook.  I cored and quartered the apples, but left the skins on because they contain so many nutrients, and besides I’m too lazy to peel them.  They filled my 3 gallon stock pot.  I added half a cup of water to keep the bottom from burning, which would have worked if only I remembered to stir the sauce more often.  I was distracted by cutting up peppers and tomatoes while the applesauce cooked.  I added about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon and about 1 tablespoon each of nutmeg and cloves.   I should have used even more cinnamon.  The flesh of the apples breaks down into sauce very nicely.  The skins don’t.  If I had wanted chunky sauce I would have diced the apples instead of merely quartering them, mostly to get the skins cut up.  Because I was happy with smooth sauce this time, I ran everything through my food mill.  It’s the food grinder attachment for a KitchenAid stand mixer.  It pureed the skins and trapped the tough bits from around the seeds.  (The seeds themselves I had gotten out.)  Yield:  4 quarts of applesauce. 

Stockpot full of quartered Macintosh apples. Stockpot half full of Macintosh applesauce.

Week 16: September 8 – 14

September 11, 2008

This week’s CSA share was one bag of baby lettuce, one bunch of arugula, one bunch of large carrots, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of parsley, one pint of tomatillos,  two pints of cherry tomatoes, four pounds of tomatoes, four eggplants, and eight green peppers of various sorts:  four bell peppers, two Cubanelle, two Aneheim (hot peppers) and two St. Nick heirloom peppers.

Lettuce and arugula are for salads and sandwiches.  Cherry tomatoes are for eating raw, either atop lettuce or as a pop-it-in-your-mouth finger food.  The regular tomatoes will become yet more cooked diced tomatoes (to go in the freezer) when they get truly ripe.  They were a bit green when we got them, so they’re ripening in a bowl on our kitchen table. 

I’ve been so busy being back to school (as a teacher) that my husband has done most of the cooking this week.  He made and froze five cups a delicious salsa verde from this week’s and last week’s total of three pints of tomatillos, this week’s two Anaheim peppers, garlic, lemon juice, and seasonings.  I’m looking forward to bean enchiladas smothered in cheddar cheese and this delicious green sauce. 

We made a ratatouille with two if this week’s eggplants, the two bell peppers left from last week, the one ripest tomato, canellini beans, garlic, olive oil, and spices (basil, thyme, salt, and pepper). 

My husband got lucky at the mid-week farmers market.  In addition to buying a dozen Ginger Gold apples for eating fresh at $2.50/lb, he came home with a 10 lb bag of Macintosh apples for making applesauce at $7.50 for the entire bag (translates to $0.75/lb).  He also bought two ears of corn to eat with supper that night, which otherwise was one of the quarts of lentil-kale-potato soup that I’d frozen less than a week earlier (in week 15).  Convenience foods are convenience foods regardless of season.  The kale retained its texture, but unfortunately the potatoes lost theirs.

Does anyone know recipes that will show off what’s special about Cubanelle or St. Nick peppers?

Week 13: August 18 – 24 (Part II)

August 27, 2008

I have a confession to make.  I bought grocery store produce yesterday.  It wasn’t anything I could have gotten elsewhere, though.  It was limes to make green salsa out of the tomatillos, cilantro, and hot pepper that I bought at the farmers market last week. The previous time I bought grocery store produce was in May, when I bought a bunch of bananas, which are also not available locally.

On the topic of fruit, we got four more blackberries from our bushes. They might be done for the season, having given us a total harvest of 35 berries. I think I’ve heard that it takes berries about three years to really establish, and this is year two for our plants, so next year should be much better for all three of our berries: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

I was so efficient last week at freezing what would freeze that by the end of the week I was having trouble devising meals.  My usual way of meal planning is to look in my veggie drawers (or my whole fridge, when the veggies have overflowed) to identify what will go bad soonest.  Then I build a meal around that vegetable, also using other vegetables if they work together.  By the end of the week I had red cabbage, white (or yellow?) potatoes, red potatoes, yellow carrots, orange carrots (of two varieties), beets, radishes, parsley, and the salsa ingredients.  Out of that lot, the most perishable were the red cabbages and the older potatoes, the white ones. 

What do you make with cabbage and potatoes? Colcannon, of course.  And if the cabbages happen to be red?  Why, then you get purple colcannon. Here’s my recipe, adapted from Joy of Cooking (I changed the cabbage, cooking time, and seasoning).

  1. Cut about one pound of potatoes into large-bite-sized pieces.  Put them in a saucepan.
  2. Cut one tiny head or half a normal red cabbage head (which are typically smaller than green cabbage heads) into quarters, core, then cut slices about 3/4 inch wide.  Put them in the saucepan on top of the potatoes.
  3. Put water in the saucepan so it just covers the cabbage.  (The potatoes need to boil but the cabbage can steam). 
  4. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until putting a fork into the potatoes causes them to break. 
  6. While the potatoes and cabbage boil, put 1/4 cup milk and 1 tbsp butter into a microwave-safe something-or-other.  I simply added the butter to the Pyrex measuring cup I used for the milk.  Add salt and pepper generously, a dash or two of garlic powder, and (the secret to yumminess) about a tablespoon of caraway seeds.  (Tip for the locals:  Penzey’s Spices on Mass Ave in Arlington has the best prices around on caraway seeds in useful quantities.)  Microwave the milk mixture for half a minute, then stir to finish melting the butter, dissolving the salt, and mixing in the seasonings.
  7. Separate the potatoes and cabbage from the cooking liquid.  I saved mine, added salt and pepper, and put the amethyst-colored vegetable broth into my freezer. 
  8. Pour the warm milk mixture over the potatoes and cabbage.  Stir to mix.  Mash gently, until the mixture is lumpy but cohesive. 
  9. Serve.
  10. Enjoy!

I really should have photographed the purple colcannon.  It was impressive.  Instead, I photographed the carrots (yellow and orange) and radishes for tabbouleh, while they were sitting in salt, while the bulghur sat plumping in boiling water.  The finished tabbouleh included parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, in addition to the bulghur and the vegetables you see here.

pretty carrots and radishes

pretty carrots and radishes

Week 13: August 18 – 24

August 20, 2008

Our CSA share this week consisted of a bunch of mustard greens, a bunch of parsley, four Asian eggplants, two regular eggplants, four peppers, a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, two pounds regular red tomatoes (six tomatoes), twelve ears of corn (but gave away three), one pound of shell beans (might be cranberry limas) and four Zestar apples.

Zestar apples are tart and weirdly crunchy without being crisp.  I like them very fresh, but I think they would quickly develop an unpleasant texture if stored.  It’s a treat to get fruit from our CSA at all, though.  When we have it, it’s because our vegetables-only farmer has traded produce with a fruit farmer neighbor.

The tomatoes were in mediocre condition.  I had to toss one entirely.  Another I had to cut off a quarter of it, but then the rest of it was very good.  Rotten tomato smells awful, but it’s easy to know quickly if tomato needs to be tossed right into compost (or garbage disposal, or trash, depending on where you are).  To keep the yuck from spreading, I dealt with the tomatoes right away.  After cutting out the bad parts, I cut up the good parts into chunks and put them into a saucepan.  I stewed them for 10 or 15 minutes (I wasn’t keeping track), then froze the chunks-in-juice.  What was effectively 4 to 4 1/2 tomatoes yielded about 3 cups. 

Today was cool enough, and the volume of veggies in our refrigerator was overwhelming enough, that I did a whole lot of freezing today. 

  • Peppers are the one vegetable that gets frozen without blanching!  All four went into the freezer, some diced, some in strips. 
  • Mustard greens got the usual blanch-shock-freeze treatment. 
  • Eggplant gets steamed rather than boiled to blanch, and then their shocking water gets lemon juice added, according to Putting Food By.  I cubed the two conventional eggplants, and made stir-fry slices of the four Asian eggplants. 
  • We boiled all nine ears of corn (4 minutes to prep for freezing).  Four of them we ate.  I cut the kernels off of the remaining five and froze them. 

For our lunches today, I used up some leftover vegetables.  I cut the kernels off the three (boiled) ears of corn left over from last week (when we were away), diced up the one remaining pepper from last week (which was looking decidedly sad), tossed in a can of black-eyed peas, seasoned with honey, cider vinegar, and Tabasco sauce, and microwaved it for a couple minutes. 

There were still leftover vegetables to be used up at supper.  I steamed the remaining Kentucky Wonder green beans.  I sauteed up the shell beans in olive oil with garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, adding the radish greens at the very end.  We also ate some of the corn from this week, while it was still deliciously sweet, crisp, and tasting just like summer. 

I went to the farmers market today intending to buy fruit for the week, since four apples last us two days if we ration ourselves.  I found plums – not the red plums with red flesh we’d liked so much in Lake Placid, but purple plums with green flesh, labeled as “prune plums.”  I bought a pound of them, which was thirteen.  I also bought a pound and a quarter of tomatillos, a hot pepper, and a bunch of cilantro to make salsa.  Most of the yellow cherry tomatoes will go into the salsa, too, because they’re not very flavorful (probably because of the rain – dryness pushed tomatoes to make sugars), and they’ll keep it a nice green-yellow salsa.

Week 8: July 13-20 (Part II)

July 20, 2008

This was a 3-farmers-market week.  In addition to buying apples and zucchini early in the week, I bought dill (intended for potato salad) at the mid-week market and tomatoes and lettuce at the end-of-week market.  The lettuce is just for salads, because it’s so hot and we have so many good things to put on top of lettuce in salad.  The tomatoes were for a family reunion picnic, and were sliced and put on sandwiches. 

The family picnic took care of some of our vegetable glut.  We made cole slaw, using the shredder attachment for our stand mixer.  We used the slicing blade for the cabbage and the shredding blade for the carrots, mostly orange and some yellow for color.  Because of the heat, I didn’t use the normal mayonnaise-laden dressing.  Instead, I made an Asian dressing of rice vinegar, canola oil (sesame oil gives too heavy a flavor), tamari soy sauce, grated ginger (I buy it jarred), and lots of sesame seeds (cheapest at an Indian grocery).

Also for the picnic, we made a big batch of tabbouleh (using 3 cups of bulghur wheat), and put in the entire bunch of parsley, three cucumbers, three orange carrots, and three yellow carrots.  The carrots are on the small side, the kind you buy at the farmers market not the kind you buy at the grocery store. 

We finally did some freezing.  It’s been very hot, so standing over boiling water to blanch vegetables is thoroughly unappealing.  We boiled about two pounds of beetroots.  The larger ones are good for grilling.  The smaller ones are good for freezing.  It works out very nicely.  We boiled the beets for half an hour, but probably should have given them only 25 minutes.  After boiling, many of the skins came off easily, but if they didn’t come off I didn’t worry about it.  Skinning beets involves pushing at the skin, trying to slide it sideways over the inside part.  We sliced a few of the beets for putting on salads (cold).  The rest we cut into wedges and froze. 

We also froze some zucchini and green beansPutting Food By says that only small zucchini freeze well.  Of our six zucchini, I judged that three were small enough to freeze.  We cut them into thick slices, blanched them for three minutes, shocked them for three minutes, and put them in our freezer.  The green beans were also three minutes to blanch and three minutes to shock.  I cut them to lengths somewhere between one and two inches.  Unfortunately, sitting on the top shelf of our refrigerator for nearly a week caused many of the beans to freeze and become weirdly translucent and have to go straight to compost. 

In other food news, we tried kohlrabi finally.  I knife-peeled one of them, and cut it into sticks maybe half an inch on a side.  It’s delightfully crunchy.  It reminds me of the inside of broccoli stems, which isn’t surprising, because kohlrabi is also a stem. 

Finally, the inventory:  The non-roots still to be used are one bunch of dill, one bunch of lettuce, three large zucchini, one cucumber, and one kohlrabi.  The roots still to be used are lots of carrots, some beets (mostly chioggia), and two pounds of potatoes.  The fruits still to be used are most of two pints of black raspberries.

I forgot to mention the raspberries.  We went berry picking today with friends, and brought back two pints of purple raspberries and two pints of black raspberries.  Well, that’s how many there were before we started the car ride home.  There were fewer when we arrived.  The purple raspberries I tried to turn into conserve.  I hope the boiled berry-sugar soup will firm up.  After a night in the refrigerator it will move into the freezer, in one-cup containers, to be moved to the refrigerator as needed during the year.